Tuesday, 22 February 2011 15:26


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While Al Jazeera has an amazing coverage of the events happening in Libya at the moment (see the live blog or the live stream), the reaction from some parts of Europe is quite horrific. Just hours after reports emerged from Libya that civilians were attacked by helicopters and other aircraft, the German politician Hans-Peter Uhl from the conservative CSU demanded strong EU coastal guard forces to keep European borders closed to Libyan refugees. I wonder if politics can ever be more inhumane...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 11:37

Global music - An interview with Per Ekedahl

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Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI) is the world's largest music NGO. Founded in Brussels in 1946, it has member organisations in 45 countries of the world and aims to use "the power of music to bridge social, geographical, racial and economic divides and create a platform for intercultural dialogue". Apart from its flagships World Youth Orchestra and World Youth Choir, it runs projects such as Ethno, a global summer camp for folk music taking place in various European countries and even Uganda. JMI President Per Ekedahl has just presented his organisation at the ICD.

ICD: Mr. Ekedahl, how does music foster understanding and peace?

PE: I'm sorry that one of the problems of our organisation is that we are bad at proving what we achieve. After 15 years of funding the Swedish Ethno camps, the Swedish Institute all of a sudden asked us, so, what did you achieve? And I bit my lip and thought: oops...

I personally am totally convinced. Just to give you an example: there was a photo session with Ethno Sweden participants from all over the world, and the photographers wanted to take a picture with all of them waving their national flags. And many refused. They did not want to represent their countries, they felt they had come for the music. In the end there were about 85 musicians and 15 flags on the photo. It is crucial not to impose a diplomatic mission on the musicians.

Monday, 21 February 2011 06:11

Wrap up, pack up

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Despite the long sessions, early mornings and the occasionally impenetrable economic jargon, I have enjoyed the WES. From the very first minute of the Summit I have seen my critical distance as an 'outsider' wither away with speaker by speaker. WES is a slick, professional experience but it is actually good fun! I have heard things I rarely thought could be economics – involving sex, alcohol and crime. I have exercised my laughing muscles. I have spoken to an Executive Director at the Bank of England and a man who single-handedly caused the collapse of a bank and who, if I remember correctly, personally owes £100 million.

All in all, there is just one thing I can confidently say I am not very happy with, and that is the weak, watery coffee given out during lunch. But then still, the biscuits were good. It's a tough call all in all. And to be fair, it's not very important.

So until next year's Summit I hope you take a look at the videos from this year. I hope you feel the spirit of the Summit and I encourage you to take a trip to Warwick – or to a similar student event –  as soon as you get the opportunity. You can go, either physically or through the online streaming that the WES has provided this year. No matter what you study, or if you study at all, "Knowledge is nothing without understanding". Events like the Warwick Economics Summit can help you along that road – it is there to inspire, motivate and bring young students closer to changing the world into a better place with their knowledge.

Photo courtesy of Constantin Postica

Ingvild Skarpeid has been reporting live for E&M at this year's Warwick Economics Summit, UK. 

This afternoon the Summit reaches its absolute climax, with Peter Backus finally explaining what I have been waiting for all weekend: "Why don't I have a girlfriend?" (Or rather in my case, why I don't have a boyfriend!) Take ten minutes to see his amazing talk here!

Paul Mason from Newsnight also makes a swift appearance this afternoon (for you non-British people, Newsnight is one of the most popluar and important news shows on BBC every night.)

Paul Mason of the BBC

In the last break of the WES I meet Joseph from Manchester who is sitting with some of the friends he has made at the Summit. I tentatively try to ask them how they are feeling after three hardcore days of meetings and seminars. Are they not tired? Isn't some of this really boring? Can you give me anything – anything – negative to say about WES?

"The Summit is amazing! It is no wonder that it's arguably the best economic student event in the whole of the UK." I look at Joseph's friends. They are nodding in agreement.

In my attempt to see if I can track down a disgruntled delegate, I corner three Erasmus students: Iva, Gerard and Léa. Coming from a foreign perspective they all agree on one thing. Iva, a Bulgarian doing her finance degree in Madrid explains: "The students here seem to be a lot more interested in their subject than at the universities we come from. I don't think that UK universities are better, on the contrary I think my university in Spain is better than my host university here in England, but the students here are so motivated."

And I have to agree – it is inspiring to see students putting together a weekend conference packed with policy experts, media celebrities as well as traditional academics. It makes me think that this is possible not only here, but across Europe and of course the world. What's more – if I am to believe the speakers I have talked to at the WES, it is important and beneficial to a number of disciplines to have international summits like this, even on an undergraduate student level.

Photo: L-R: Joseph (Manchester), Cheng (London), Medalynn (London), Nicholas (Birmingham) 

Ingvild Skarpeid is reporting live for E&M at this year's Warwick Economics Summit, UK.

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